The other day I watched a Youtube video by Seattle drag queen Jackie Hell, and I was reminded of what Pittsburgh queen Sharon Needles has said about her own art: that she wants to shine a light on the dark and ugly side of humanity. I don’t think Jackie would make the cut for Rupaul’s Drag Race any time soon—she is just too specialised—but I think she and Sharon have a lot in common, and they both have a lot of uncomfortable things to say.
To shine a light on Jackie’s horrible character, I decided to include that Youtube video below. Some people say camp drag queens mock women, but they fail to realise that camp queens are consciously flaying stereotypes about traditional womanhood. It is actually the critics of camp drag queens who mock women, because they actually believe in the stereotypes that those queens are parodying. I think Jackie is like that–she is creating a pastiche of anecdotal female caricatures and channelling her impressions through performance art:
I know, the child abuse part. It’s a touchy subject. But hopefully we can all agree that Jackie is satirising the ugliest sample of humanity and making it something we can all recognize, if indirectly. I actually think watching videos like hers is a way for us to confront our greatest fears. Who else would say it? Your schoolteacher? No. It takes the boldest performance artist to speak truth.
Anyway, what do you think about Jackie Hell’s style of drag? Is it offensive, does it challenge your way of thinking about gender performance, or are you simply amused by her style of drag?